Protocol is the thread that binds, the unspoken web that confines and determines Family behaviour and interaction. Protocol affects every action of every Family member. Protocol is not fixed, it is mutable, but changes are rare, their effects far-reaching, and may take decades to be agreed. Protocol is almost an independent power. It may prevent or reverse illegal actions without recourse to the Families. It is created by the Families, kept by the Families and obeyed by the Families. It is rare for any Family member to attempt to work outside of Protocol, or to ignore it, for Protocol will act inevitably to prevent success, and the consequences may be severe.
Although the terms of Protocol are equally applicable to all, Family character determines interpretation of restriction into action. Family character is unchanging, as the Families are unchanging. Humans see different things in the Families because humans are different, not because the Families change. The Families know one another, and the varying interpretations are known and understood. One Family always knows how another will interpret and abide by Protocol.
It is almost impossible to catalogue the details of Protocol. It is etched into the behavioural template of every Family member. The best and easiest way to determine the legality of any action is to say "Can I do this?" It is usually immediately apparent whether the action is permitted. With experience, it becomes possible to use Protocol to advantage, and to work through the threads for a satisfactory course.
Protocol is the larger whole of the Rules that govern individual Family action. The Rules differ markedly from Family to Family, and are sourced entirely in Family character. Raven's character determines that the Nascakiyetl Core may not ask for assistance, but may accept an offer of aid, depending on the originator and nature of the offer. In many areas, Rules and Protocol combine to affect a Family's behaviour. Families may not lie to one another, nor to their members. Wolf Rules mean a Wolf will certainly not lie to Family, and rarely to anyone. Raven will not lie to other Families or to His children, but He is not averse to keeping the whole truth from them if He deems it valuable to do so, and He will happily lie outright to non-Family. These differences are known and understood and accounted for.
Protocol cannot be broken. Protocol cannot be ignored. Protocol cannot be argued with. Protocol is a force given independence by the combined will of the Families. It is not intelligent, cannot be said to be wrong. Like gravity, or the laws of motion, it just is.